Friday, January 26, 2007

Pens and Pocket Knives

My mother’s father was a larger than life figure… a true man’s man. And, someone I have tried to emulate my entire life. The other day, when I posted Tool Box Thursday, I started thinking about my grandfather, who passed away more than a few years ago. He was my ultimate resource for all things tool related and beyond. He was a man who could fix anything; from a broken radio to a crushed dream.

He spent most of his life working for Grumman Aerospace, now called Northrop-Grumman. The company is a large defense contractor that for years was based right here on Long Island, and built many aircraft, including the F-14 Tomcat made famous by the movie Top Gun.

Like many men of his generation he didn’t attend college, instead a trade school. He served in the Marines during World War II, then had children and moved to the suburbs. He was electrical engineer who achieved the prestigious job title of Final Inspector. Nothing left the hanger without his stamp of approval. Literally, he had a small stamp with his initials that embossed all the electrical components of a particular aircraft. The pinnacle of his career was working on the first lunar module that would land on the moon. The old joke in our family has always been that he never made it to the moon but his initials did. There are still warplanes today, flying around, protecting us, with his initials in them.

As a little boy I always looked forward to going to his house, often I would stay over night and just tag along from project to project. My grandfather never sat still, always something to fix, tweak, improve, tear down and build again. I was the original Helper. Now you know where my little guy gets it from.

One memory, that came rushing back the other day while I was writing my post, was my grandfather's pen and pocket knife. He always had the same Parker stainless steel pen in his front left shirt pocket and a small, very sharp, pocket knife in his left rear pants pocket. It seemed that with these two items he could rebuild an engine or frame a house. To be honest, he probably could.

Men learn how to be men from other men. We learn how to treat a woman by watching our fathers love our mothers, and our grandfathers honor and care for our grandmothers. We learn how to be gentlemen from watching true gentle men. Father’s are not easily impressed by their sons, but they’re always proud of them. As men, we’re remembered by the character of the men we raise.

To this day, I have never left the house without my stainless Parker pen or my pocket knife in my left rear pant pocket.

I love you Grandpa… thanks for the tools… and the knowledge and ability to use them... I'll make you proud!

Does Handy Manny Read LID?

While watching Playhouse Disney this morning (don't laugh! -- you know you do too!) they did a promo for tomorrow's new episode of Handy Manny. It seems the new episode is "The Case Of The Missing Socks."

Hmmmm... seems to me I recently posted a humorous anecdote about a missing sock.

Coincidence... I think NOT!

I know the Helper has a close personal relationship with Mr. Manny but I didn't know he was feeding him story ideas. I guess it's okay as long as he receives compensation.

I have to go to my mailbox now and see if there's a check from Disney... I'll let you know.
Nope... not yet, maybe tomorrow!

Photo Friday

In an effort to keep a theme to Long Island Dad, I'm starting Photo Friday. A place where I sort through and post some new and old pictures for your viewing pleasure. The Helper certainly has his following and who am I to disappoint them?

My Little Gentleman!

A younger Helper taken at the beach on Fire Island.
The flags in the distance fly over the TWA Flight 800 memorial.

The Helper loves his trains!
This was taken this summer at the Long Island Railroad Museum.

One of Greg "Wiggles" last live performances. Taken this summer at the Nassau Coliseum. As I've mentioned before the children are so deprived... they never get to do anything cool...

Daddy and the Helper making a sand art creation at the annual Oysterfest Festival.
Again... he never gets to do anything fun...
Long Island definitely doesn't have a shortage of sand.

Nine Degrees !

Remember the post I did about the weather? Well now I’m definitely eating my words… No… they’re actually being crammed down my throat. This morning my computer told me it was 9 degrees outside at 7 a.m. While this may not be a big deal for our Canadian friends it’s certainly a big deal here on our little island. Today we’re predicted to have wind chill temperatures between -10 and -15 degrees.

That’s COLD folks!

No going out with the kiddies today. I’ll keep you posted when the igloo gets finished. I have to go hitch up the sled dogs now and make a run for provisions.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Tool Box Thursday 1/25/2007

Issue #1 - Multi-Tools & Silicone Lubricant

Multi-Tools (All In One Tools)

One of the most important, and popular, tools in my house is my All-In-One Tool, also called a Multi-Tool. Even though I have 400 square feet, in a separate building, dedicated to tool storage, and at last count, 57 different screwdrivers, this is the tool I use on a daily basis. A good multi-tool will contain: pliers, wire cutters, slotted and Phillips screwdrivers, cutting blades, awl, and a can/bottle opener.

The advantage of this ingenious invention is that you don’t have to search different places for all your basic hand tools. I actually have two of these wonders; I keep another one in the car, like a mini tool box it’s always ready to go. If only to open that damn plastic blister packaging that encases almost everything these days, or to clip the wire ties that attach every toy to it's box. Moms and Dads, this is a tool you should not ever be without!


  • Do not purchase an inexpensive knock-off of the original designs. These cheap imitations can often be found, blister packed, hanging in the camping sections of local discount stores, priced between $10 and $20. You will not be happy with the quality, and these tools can actually be unsafe due to their poor construction. One thing to look for is a “lock-back” feature. This prevents the tool from closing when in use. Something that could be very dangerous when using the sharp blade fold out. The less expensive units, more often than not, do not have this feature. It’s another one of those “you get what you pay for” things.

Remember Tool Rule #1: A tool that's never used is sad and lonely... and a waste of money!

I’ve had my original tool for seven years now and use it on a daily basis. I paid $47 and it’s more than paid for itself.

The two manufacturers I recommend for Multi-Tools are GERBER and SCHRADE. I use the SCHRADE ST1, a great all around multi-tool. Though, Gerber has a much larger selection, and has tools designed for different purposes.

Silicone Lubricant

I would never discount the wonders of WD-40; I’m more a fan of Solder Seal Gunk’s Silicone Spray Lubricant. While WD-40 certainly has its place (to be used mainly with metal parts, though you can download the 2000 uses for WD-40 at its website) a Silicone Spray works with all types of materials. It’s especially good for rubber, plastic, and nylon parts, but can be used on metal as well.

One big advantage, that I have found, is silicone spray does not evaporate as fast as petroleum based sprays. This makes those annoying squeaks stop for longer periods. Also, petroleum based sprays tend to attract more dirt and dust, often causing bigger problems in the future. There’s also the issue of flammability. While both sprays are flammable, petroleum based sprays have a lower flash point making them a second choice when contact with heat is needed (i.e. used as a coolant for drill bits when drilling into metal.)

The next time you have a squeaky door hinge, noisy office chair or stubborn kitchen drawer slide try some silicone instead of the “blue” can stuff. You’ll be pleasantly surprised, I’m sure of it.


  • Avoid over spraying any kind of spray lubricant, most will stain fabrics, woods, and plastics. Also, use disposable paper towels for clean up. Cloth rags that have been soaked with a spray lubricant are a fire hazard.

Introducing Tool Box Thursday

One of the greatest things about the blog-o-sphere is the constant exchange of ideas, advice, and tips and tricks. Today, our friend at Daddy Diary Tales is looking for content suggestions. (Update: Our friend, Jeff, has started a totally new and separate blog called Daddy Diary Tales - The Other One... check it out!) That got me thinking…[smell of wood burning]… I know, I know I should be using what brain power I have left to deal with the concerns of “the little people.”

But what if we all dedicated some space in our parenting/family/kid anecdote blogs to our “adult” talents?… you know what I mean. (Stop laughing Angel… and Joy’s!... and Wonder Mom.)

What about a weekly post dedicated to our areas of expertise outside the parenting domain?

This would give us all a chance to share our years of acquired knowledge on a particular topic, and provide us all with a “real-time” resource. We all need all the help we can get, right?

I’m not talking about providing anything that would require liability insurance coverage, just some tips. For example: product reviews, unsolicited advice, recipes, cleaning techniques, car care tips, home repair tips, computing and technology tips and links, interior design techniques, etc.

There are millions of “forums” offering advice on millions of problems, the problem with these forums is that you have to look through thousands of threads before you find the small morsel of information you need.

With this in mind, I am starting my own TOOL BOX THURSDAY’s, a place where I will provide a weekly offering of home improvement links, products, tips, tricks and energy saving advice.

I hope you’ll agree that this could be fun and informative. Also, it could take the pressure off the daily post conundrum.

Stay tuned for the first installment of Tool Box Thursday!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A One Track Mind?

For a lifetime I have been designing and remodeling residential structures. After some time, I have even become pretty good at it. I am extremely proficient in all areas of home improvement and possess quite an arsenal of equipment dedicated to this purpose. I’ve mentioned this before… there’s nothing like a man and his tools.

Here’s the problem; the Helper, as previously posted (I forgot where and when, but I know I did), is looking for a remake of his little corner of the world. He would like his room to change colors… immediately!

It has gotten to the point that I seem to require multiple reminders on a daily basis.

“Dad, my room is boring, can you pleeeeease paint it?”

“I will buddy, this spring, as soon as it’s warmer out, okay?”

“Look! It sure is spring outside, look out the window, c’mere I show you!”

“Okay buddy, what color do you think would look good?” (A lame attempt to change focus.)

“Red… and Blue… and Green… oh, and Yellow… black, too!”

Hmmm… seems awfully similar to the CARS movie color scheme, me thinks!

Now, the apparent, 4 year old, deal closer...

“I’ll help you, Dad! I’m a good painter… like my pictures.”

Oh, boy -- there’s no way this will end well. He did help with his brother’s room, as I’ve mentioned, though he never actually touched anything he was a great motivational speaker… I’ll leave that to your imaginations.

You may be saying, just give in, paint the lil' guy's room. Yes, I’m sure that’s what you’re saying. I would, except for the fact that all his “stuff” must be removed and placed on the back porch. Something I will not do in 19 degree weather. I promise that as soon as the temperature is over 50 degrees on a daily basis I will start this monumental task (I've remodeled 300 year old mansions that have taken less effort). Until then, I will ward off my daily reminders with cunning re-direction and witty retorts.

The boy, on the other hand, will continue to review color swatches and watch Handy Manny completely overhaul the town’s merry-go-round, in fifteen minutes, with six hand tools… that talk, no less!

Case of the Missing Sock

(Edited below after a content review by the Mommy... seems my recollection isn't what it used to be.)

While on the surface the story below may not seem that unusual, the visual of a 4 year limping 50 feet to avoid contact with my sterile floor coverings is in itself...

The other night the Helper limped into the living room and notified us that he was missing a sock. He was limping as to not touch the floor with his bare foot. Why? I don't know! Some questions are best left unanswered, folks!

"Can you help me find my sock, it's lost?" he asked globally.

"Where did you leave it honey?" the Mommy asked, barely containing her hysterics.

"I don't know, it looks like RED!" he provided, in a slightly panicked tone.

"Okay, I'll help you find it!" Mommy said in a reassuring tone, still suppressing a strong desire to inquire about the limping, though tears of her contained amusement were starting to show.

Daddy was trying very hard himself not to burst out in laughter... an action that could possibly create a mental scar for life... something we try to avoid, if at all possible.

Needless to say, the sock was found and donned by the boy. He returned to the living room in a normal gait to show off his recovered stocking. Another crisis avoided! His mental health intact!
Though, I will continue to keep crutch and cane manufacturers bookmarked for future emergencies... just in case.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Kids Are Quick!

The following comes to us by way of the Helper's Godmother, a teacher, who can always be counted on for another installment of "Kid's Say The Darnedest Things." If you haven't seen this yet... it's hysterical!

Kids are Quick

TEACHER: Maria, go to the map and find North America.
MARIA: Here it is.
TEACHER: Correct. Now class, who discovered America?
CLASS: Maria.

TEACHER: John, why are you doing your math multiplication on the
JOHN: You told me to do it without using tables.

TEACHER: Glenn, how do you spell "crocodile?"
TEACHER: No, that's wrong
GLENN: Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it.

TEACHER: Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?
TEACHER: What are you talking about?
DONALD: Yesterday you said it's H to O.

TEACHER: Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we
didn't have ten years ago.

TEACHER: Glen, why do you always get so dirty?
GLEN: Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground than you are.

TEACHER: Millie, give me a sentence starting with "I."
MILLIE: I is..
TEACHER: No, Millie..... Always say, "I am."
MILLIE: All right... "I am the ninth letter of the alphabet."

TEACHER: George Washington not only chopped down his father's cherry tree, but also admitted it. Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn't punish him?
LOUIS: Because George still had the ax in his hand.

TEACHER: Now, Simon, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?
SIMON: No sir, I don't have to, my Mom is a good cook.

TEACHER: Clyde, your composition on "My Dog" is exactly the same as your brother's. Did you copy his?
CLYDE: No, teacher, it's the same dog.

TEACHER: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?
HAROLD: A teacher

Alas, All Good Things Must End

All good things must end. Our mini-vacation is coming to a close. The Mommy will be returning to work tomorrow for another eight day work marathon. Needless to say a good time was had by all. We are all fully rested and prepared to face our upcoming work stretch head on. There have been daily naps, good food and drink, movie watching and just some plain 'ole veggin' time.

The only casualty this weekend was the Mommy's pink Motorola RAZR Cell Phone. It went for a dip in a cup of coffee Saturday night. It seems that cell phones should avoid being immersed in liquid at all costs... who knew? Have no fears though, Mommy went on-line with our cellular carrier and ordered a replacement -- the new BlackBerry Pearl -- which should be here today. The Mommy will be able to send and receive her emails and browse the web from anywhere... Ah, the technology. A definite advantage with her busy schedule. I like when the Mommy gets a new phone, usually once a year, because the Daddy gets one too. That's right, Mommy ordered Daddy a new cell phone -- not the BlackBerry -- I don't need to be in that kind of contact -- but its a beautiful new device just for being me. (I was not the one who sent the RAZR in for a swim.)

Thanks for all the well wishes, folks. They were much appreciated. Some "Helper-ism" posts will be forthcoming, stay tuned. Thanks for visiting... the saga continues.